The Conservative Political Action Conference, sponsored by the American Conservative Union and held annually in Washington D.C., has long been the biggest meeting ground for Movement Conservatives. Recently, it has degenerated into a giant celebration of George Bush and the Republican Party. But at least this year (February 17-19), it allowed a serious debate on immigration policyunmistakably a hot topic among conservatives and certainly the highlight of the conference.
In this context, two further observations about CPAC that are worth noting:
The growing Draft Condoleezza movement. Eighteen percent of the CPAC attendees said Secretary Rice was their top choice for the GOP ticket in 2008. This was only one percentage point below Rudolph Giuliani. A huge number of attendants were wearing Condi in 2008 buttons. Since then, I have noted an array of blogs and websites supporting her candidacy.
I find this absolutely baffling. Besides the fact that Rice has never served in elected office, we have no clue what her political views are. The only time she bothered to state an independent opinion besides echoing the Presidents Iraq war stance was to support affirmative action before the Grutter and Gratz decisions.
Rice may be very conservative. But I dont think that all the people sporting the Condi in 2008 buttons at CPAC knew anything that I didnt know. What they did know is that Condoleezza Rice is black and a female. And, in their dream world, this will mean that they will be free from accusations of racism and sexism from the Left.
This idiotic rainbow Republicanism is a recipe for electoral failure. Besides the fact the choice most likely will alienate their white male base, it is unlikely to gain them any brownie points among blacks or females.
Just ask Pat Buchananand whomever it was who persuaded him to pick Ezola Foster as his running mate in 2000.
Newt Gingrichs speech. Many suspect the former GOP Speaker will run for president in 2008.
Gingrich made some strong, but not totally agreeable, statements about immigration. He said that both borders needed to be sealed, and all border crossers should be strongly scanned. At the same time, while not endorsing Bushs guest worker program, he suggested that access to green cards be made easier. [Speech in RealAudio]
This pro-legal immigration/anti-illegal immigration position seems to be very popular among Movement Conservatives. Of course, it means that they are not the bigots of liberal caricature. But it can easily allow people like Mr. Gingrich to make a few small gestures towards restrictionistslike being less generous about issuing visas to Muslimswhile doing nothing to stop the rapid transformation of this country via Third World immigration.
Overall, the news from CPAC was good for immigration reformers.
But theres still work to do.